1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

We are taking a tour through the New Testament in chronological order. Last week we studied the Gospel of Matthew which he wrote in 45AD. Today we will study 1 Thessalonians. This is the Apostle Pauls letter that he wrote in 52AD to the Christians in Thessalonica.

There are several powerful passages throughout this letter and it is hard to pick just one. We will focus on the verses that tell us specifically how to discover Gods will for our life. Everyone wants to know what Gods will is for their life several years ago there was a whole craze called the Purpose Driven Life. People wanted to know their purpose in life. Today we will see in 10 simple words Gods Will for your life.

 

But first lets understand a little bit about Thessalonica and the Christians who lived in there.

Thessalonica was founded around 315BC by Macedon’s King and named the city after his wife Thessalonike, who was Alexander the Great’s half-sister.

It had become the second largest city in Greece with a population of about 200,000. When the Romans assumed dominance in 148BC, it grew to be a critical trading hub for the Roman Empire by facilitating the exchange of goods between Europe and Asia.

The city contained an amphitheater where entertainment in the form of gladiatorial shows were held for the local citizens.

 

As a small, young church in big, pagan city, the Thessalonian Christians faced challenges to their faith at every turn – persecution, social pressure, and temptations of their old lifestyle.

 

Pauls letter to the Thessalonians was written very soon, maybe only months after he left the city.

How long did Paul preach in Thessalonica?

Luke tells us in Acts 17:2 that Paul preached in the synagogue on three Sabbath days. Paul reminded the Thessalonians that he supported himself while he preached in 1 Thessalonians 2:9 and he thanked the Philippians (Phil 4:16) for their continual support while he was in Thessalonica.

Philippians 4:16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need.

 

Paul ministered for more than three weeks in Thessalonica when we harmonize all of Gods word. Some of course want to say that the Bible contradicts itself on the length of Pauls stay but that is just disingenuous, trying to make Lukes words mean Paul was only in town the three weeks he preached in the synagogue.

 

Lets read what the Holy Spirit wanted us to know about the founding of the church in Thessalonica through the writing of Luke.

 

Acts 17:1 They came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,” he said. 4 Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women. 5 But the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. 6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, 7 and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” 8 When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil. 9 Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go. 10 As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue.

 

This was the founding of the church of Christ in Thessalonica Jews who accepted Jesus as the Messiah, some Gentiles who had not converted to Judaism but feared God and some prominent women. Jason is the only name we know because he was arrested for housing Paul and Silas.

 

It is interesting that people have not changed in 1,965 years. The Jews got jealous, they did not like what Paul was preaching, so they started a riot. Turn on the news and you will see a riot of some type because people are not happy with what the other person believes or says.

Another fun fact is that Paul and Silas were good at hide and seek. Paul left under cover of darkness for Berea. Paul was either hiding in Jasons house or around town during the riot. Makes me think of the Germans who hid Jews from the Nazis.

What did Paul do when he arrived at Berea? He preached at the synagogue. A riot and threat of death was no going to prevent Paul from preaching Jesus to his fellow Jews.

 

The Christians at Thessalonica endured persecution very quickly. Baby Christians suffering so much, so quickly, could have turned away from Christ but instead they became an example. I would like to receive the kind of praise and encouragement that Paul heaped on these young Christians.

 

1 Thessalonians 1:6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia–your faith in God has become known everywhere. 9 They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead–Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

 

Are you an imitator of our Lord; even in times of suffering?

Do you welcome the message of God with joy?

Is everyone aware of your faith?

Have you turned from your old ways and served Almighty God?

Are you waiting patiently for Jesus return?

 

If you have discovered Gods will for your life this is what others could say about you.

 

Paul tells the Christians how to live

1 Thessalonians 5:8 But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.

 

Paul five years later will write to the Corinthian (1 Cor 13:13) Christians (he is in Corinth as he writes to the Thessalonians) and remind them that faith, hope, and love are the foundation of their faith. And 10 years later as he writes to the Christians at Ephesus he will expand on the military illustration of putting on the armor of God (Eph 6:10). I think it is interesting to see the themes and illustrations are consistent.

 

Now lets unpack 10 simple words to discover Gods will for our life. In the Greek, it is only 7 words.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

 

If you know Gods will for your life it should be easy to fulfill Gods will for your life not really.

When I was a youth minister I remember a kid asking why God did not appear to every person when they were like 12 so everyone one know that God was real. If God would do this the youth reasoned then everyone would know and be faithful to Jesus.

It sounds nice but it just doesnt hold water. All we have to do is look at King Solomon. God appeared to him (1 Kings 3:5) an answered his prayer but we see later in his life that King Solomon turned his heart away from God (1 Kings 11:4).

 

Just because we know God is real and even when we know Gods will for our life we still must be faithful to His will every day.

 

The question is not knowing Gods will but being faithful to Gods will. We need to wake up every day and choose to rejoice, prepare our mind to pray, and to give thanks.

Maybe write – Joy, Pray, Thanks on your calendar or a post-it on your mirror to remind yourself your purpose for the day.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

 

When you pray, pray in the name of Jesus and that Gods will be done (John 14:13,14; Matthew 26:39).

It is not about you, it is about God. Joy, Prayer, and Thanksgiving is all from God.

 

Rejoicing, Praying, and giving thanks is a continual action for a Christian. Why?

Because God makes saints out of sinners.

 

God wants you to have joy, He wants you to talk to Him and He wants you to give thanks.

When you spend time with Jesus you will be able to have the right perspective to give thanks no matter what is going on. When you give thanks, you will have joy.

 

Would you rather be full of joy or complaints? It is your choice.

Being joyful and thankful doesnt depend on your circumstances, it depends on your attitude toward God.

 

2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

 

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! .11 I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

 

Being joyful always is about a choice and a perspective. You can choose to be a gloomy or joyful.

 

Paul practiced what he preached. Paul was in Philippi shortly before he went to Thessalonica, they knew the persecution he endured and how he reacted.

 

Acts 16:22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, 24 he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.

 

If you rejoice in the challenging times, if you continue to pray and give thanks to God others will listen. You are not just talking about the Good News you are living the Good news of Jesus.

 

Let me give you a quick test to see if you are a thankful person who is living the Good News of Jesus.

#1 Which do you tend to talk about more your blessings, or your disappointments?

#2 Are you a complainer, always grumbling, always finding fault with your circumstances?

#3 Are you content with what you have, or always dissatisfied and wanting more?

#4 Do you find it easier to count your blessings, or is it easier to count your afflictions?

#5 Do you express thanks to others when they help you, or do you just take it as your due?

#6 Would others say that you are a thankful person?

 

You have discovered Gods will for your life but will you fulfill Gods will in your life.

Start today by making the choice to be joyful always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances.

 

Everyone can make that choice if you have accepted the grace of Jesus.

 

Because Jesus forgave your sins Rejoice and be thankful every day.

If you dont have joy in your life then accept Jesus love and forgiveness today.

 

Be willing to change your ways, repent of your sins and be immersed for the forgiveness of your sins and receive the gift of God the Holy Spirit.